Open letter mentions intimidation and threats at ID

An open letter that was sent via email on Monday evening to several bodies within the TU/e community, including Cursor, mentions an instance of misconduct at the department of Industrial Design. The author of the letter accuses a staff member of attempts at intimidation, threats and abuse.

photo Han Konings

Jos Hermus, managing director at Industrial Design, says that he knows of the letter, and that he is also aware of the matter described therein. “The department board has met several times to discuss the matter with those involved in an attempt to arrive at a solution. However, these meetings didn’t yield any results, unfortunately. A complaint has been filed with TU/e’s integrity committee, and the committee’s advice has by now been sent to the Executive Board.”

Hermus says that the department now has to wait for what the Executive Board will decide, based on the integrity committee’s assessment. The Executive Board will make a decision on the advice within the set time limit of four weeks, Executive Board spokesperson Ivo Jongsma says. Personally, Hermus hopes that the board’s decision could lead to the start of a mediation process. He doesn’t recognize the role of the board of Industrial Design or of the Executive Board, as described in the open letter. “Due to confidentiality, I obviously can’t say anything about the identities of the persons involved in this matter.”


The author of the open letter, who uses the name M. Otten, approached Cursor about this issue three weeks ago already. The individual identified as the victim in the letter, is Otten’s current partner and works as an assistant professor at ID. Otten, who is a TU/e alumnus, claims that the assistant professor is being harassed since February of this year, as well as intimidated and obstructed in her career because she refuses to submit to the advances of a doctoral candidate in her group. Otten speaks of stalking. He also writes that the board of ID forced the victim to choose between her career and her own safety, and that it refused to take into account the evidence brought forward by the victim. Furthermore, Otten claims that the victim was told that she herself was to blame for all the bad things that happened as a result of this matter.

The assistant professor decided not to talk to Cursor on the record and to await the Executive Board’s decision. She was aware however of the fact that her partner planned to send an open letter. Otten says that he sent the letter to several department councils, the University Council, the Executive Board and the General Union of Education (AOB), which he previously contacted regarding this matter.

University Council’s role

Martijn Klabbers, member of staff faction PUR within the University Council, has also read the letter, but says that the council can’t do anything in individual cases such as this one. “Ours is a supervisory role, and we can’t act in these kinds of specific cases. This does however make it clear to the council, and the members of the University Council committee Well-being in particular, that there’s still much to improve in this regard. With conflicts like these, it’s especially important to try and take action at an early stage and to prevent it from escalating into a highly complex case. Unfortunately, it seems that this case has also escalated too far. Together with the Executive Board, we want to determine the proper procedures and regulations in cases like these. The university’s new ombudsperson, who will take up her duties on December 1, also has an important role to play in this. Because we’ve seen that each time a case isn’t addressed in time, people end up being damaged.”

The people in the main photo, which was taken in one of Industrial Design’s workshops in Atlas, aren’t involved in the above-described case.

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